There are a million ideas out there for how to manage our time more wisely and for ramping up productivity, so why do we need one more list? Because you probably haven't mastered it yet (and neither have I) and reminders are always good. Besides, this list is by no means an exhaustive or comprehensive list, otherwise I would have to title it One Hundred and Six Ideas...well, you get the point. In any case, these are just a handful that are meaningful to me. I hope they are useful to you as well.
[Use a timer to keep yourself on task.]
1) Determine to take back time needed for more important things. Let's say it's time on social media that is wrecking your productivity. Rather than think of it as a restriction on time spent on Facebook or Pinterest, for example, set a timer for yourself with the idea that you're going to redeem that time for a specific work project (or whatever) that needs to be done. It's the difference between saying "I won't allow myself on the internet until this timer goes off" and "I'm setting aside this time for project x". Limiting your time on the internet will do nothing if you don't determine beforehand what you will use that time for.
2) Set aside a certain time (or times) of the day when you can reward yourself with free time on the internet. That way you won't feel like you're missing out. I like to remind myself to "do the unpleasant before the pleasant" as someone once advised me. If you haven't been diligent to do the unpleasant (or necessary) beforehand, then you may be plagued with guilt during your free time. Don't do that to yourself!
3) Don't answer the phone! Okay, I don't mean never answer the phone. But, seriously, do you have to talk to everyone and anyone that calls at every given moment? Do you have to respond to every text or email as soon as your cell phone alerts you that one has come in? Certainly there are times when it's needful or even more efficient to respond right away. Don't neglect your family or friends (people are important), but don't let others determine how you spend your minutes and even hours. Set reasonable boundaries and don't feel guilty about it. You'll be a much happier person to be around.
4) Clean up your email subscriptions. It's true we don't always read every email that comes in. I've read statistics about the percentage of emails that actually get read and it's dismally low. Maybe you have good intentions of reading all those news feeds (in my case), but you never seem to get around to it. In the meantime, they clutter up your inbox and make it a time-consuming affair just trying to find that one email that you really need that someone sent approximately 3 to 5 days ago (insert hair pulling here)! Pick a few subscriptions that you truly want to have (even if you don't get to them right away) and unsubscribe from the rest.
5) Work hard. Play hard. I can't stress this enough. I've recently come to the conclusion that I am somewhat of a workaholic. Part of the problem stems from the fact that I love what I do which makes it difficult to determine when enough is enough. Many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of thinking they can't take time off to do recreational stuff because they have too much work to do (reality check: there will always be too much to do when you work for yourself). I am guilty of not taking enough breaks and, honestly, I think I am less productive because of it. When you do business at home like I do, it's absolutely essential that you get out of the house on a regular basis in order to refuel.
6) Start your day off on the right foot. I know. This should have been first. But sometimes the most important things need to be stated last so they are freshest in your mind. Because I work at home, I have a tendency to jump right into the work day before my shower, my workout, or even breakfast. Here's where I confess there have been times I've gotten so wrapped up in my work that I'm still in my bathrobe when my husband comes home from work. Seriously? Yes, seriously. And it may have been a very productive day, but it looks like I've been sitting around eating bonbons. And...I never got around to doing my walk, I still haven't showered and I've spent the entire day (albeit a productive one) in front of a computer screen while outside it's sunny and beautiful.
My point is that you need to take care of those things that are part of why you do business in the first place FIRST. If it's time with God, make that a priority early in the day. If it's important to you to get out for a walk and soak in some vitamin D, be sure to do that. Feed yourself a healthy breakfast and get your shower out of the way before you jump into your work. You'll feel much better and be more ready to get down to business!
So what about you? What are your tips for reducing time wasting activity and making your days more productive? I would love to hear them!